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Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child of Mine – Live

Guns N’ Roses,

 

Formation (1985–1986): was formed in March 1985 by singer Axl Rose and rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin of Hollywood Rose, along with lead guitarist Tracii Guns, bassist Ole Beich, and drummer Rob Gardner of L.A. Guns. The band coined its name by combining the names of both previous groups. After only a short time, during which they reportedly played just two or three shows, Beich was replaced by Duff McKagan, while Guns’ lack of attendance at rehearsals led to his replacement by Slash. Gardner quit soon after and was replaced by Steven Adler. Stradlin had previously played with Slash in Hollywood Rose, while Slash had played with McKagan and Adler in Road Crew.

In June 1985, just four days after the lineup was finalized, the band embarked on a short, disorganized tour of the West Coast, from Sacramento, California, to McKagan’s hometown of Seattle, Washington.[18] The so-called “Hell Tour” cemented the band’s first stable lineup, with McKagan later commenting, “This trip had set a new benchmark for what we were capable of, what we could and would put ourselves through to achieve our goals as a band.”

Through their increasing presence on the Hollywood club scene – playing such famed bars as The Troubadour and The Roxy – Guns N’ Roses drew the attention of major record labels. They were signed by Geffen Records in March 1986, receiving a $75,000 advance.[20] In December of that year, they released the four-song EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, designed to keep interest in the band alive while they withdrew from the club scene to work in the studio. The EP contained covers of Rose Tattoo’s “Nice Boys” and Aerosmith’s “Mama Kin”, along with two original compositions – the punk anthem “Reckless Life” and the classic rock-inspired “Move to the City.” Although billed as a live recording, the four songs were taken from the band’s demo tapes and overdubbed with crowd noise. Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide was released on the Geffen subsidiary UZI Suicide, with production limited to 10,000 vinyl copies.
Breakthrough and mass popularity (1987–1989)
Slash on stage in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, 2005
Axl Rose on stage in Tel Aviv, Israel, 1993
Guitarist Slash and singer Axl Rose were the band’s most public faces during its late 1980s-early 1990s heyday.

guns n roses
Appetite for Destruction

Guns N’ Roses’ debut album Appetite for Destruction was released July 21, 1987. The album underwent an artwork change after the original cover design by Robert Williams – depicting a surrealist scene in which a dagger-toothed monster vengefully attacks a robot rapist – was deemed too controversial.[21] The revised cover was a design by Bill White, a tattoo artist, who had originally designed the artwork for a tattoo Rose had acquired the previous year. The artwork featured each of the five band members’ skulls layered on a cross. Rose later insisted that the Gold and Platinum plaques issued by the RIAA be set using the original cover art, which can be found in the booklet of the CD release.

In the U.S., “Welcome to the Jungle” was issued as the album’s first single, with an accompanying music video. Initially, the album and single lingered for almost a year without performing well, but when Geffen founder David Geffen was asked to lend support to the band, he obliged by personally convincing MTV executives to play “Welcome to the Jungle” during their after-hours rotation.[22] Even though the video was initially only played once at 4 a.m. on a Sunday, heavy metal and hard rock fans took notice and soon began requesting the video and song en masse. The song was written about Los Angeles, was written in Seattle, and the music video took place in New York. According to Axl Rose, the inspiration for the lyrics came from an encounter he and a friend had with a homeless man while they were coming out of a bus into New York. Trying to put a scare into the young runaways, the man yelled at them, “You know where you are? You’re in the jungle baby; you’re gonna die!”[23] The song was featured in the 1988 Dirty Harry film The Dead Pool, starring Clint Eastwood, and members of the band had a cameo appearance in the film.

“Sweet Child o’ Mine” was the album’s second U.S. single, a love song co-written by Rose as a poem for his then-girlfriend Erin Everly, daughter of Don Everly of the Everly Brothers. Due to the growing grassroots success of the band and the cross-gender appeal of the song, “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and its accompanying music video received heavy airplay on both radio and MTV, becoming a huge hit during the summer of 1988 and reaching the top of the charts in the U.S. Slash later commented, “It was actually my least favorite song we ever wrote… I hate it, but it turns out to be our greatest song ever.”[24] The song was released in Japan as part of the EP Live from the Jungle, which also featured a selection of live recordings from the band’s June 1987 dates at London’s The Marquee, their first shows outside the United States.

After the success of “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” “Welcome to the Jungle” was re-issued as a single and reached No. 7 in the U.S. By the time “Paradise City” and its video reached the airwaves, peaking at No. 5 in the U.S., Appetite for Destruction had reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200. To date, the album has sold in excess of 28 million copies worldwide, including 18 million units sold in the United States, which makes it the best-selling debut album of all time in the U.S.

Guns N’ Roses toured extensively in support of their debut album, embarking on the 16-month-long Appetite for Destruction Tour. In addition to headlining dates in Europe and the U.S., the band opened North American shows for The Cult, Mötley Crüe, and Alice Cooper throughout the second half of 1987. The following year, they played headlining tours of the U.S., Japan, and Australia, and served as openers on North American treks by Iron Maiden and Aerosmith. Tim Collins, Aerosmith’s then-manager, remarked, “By the end of the tour, Guns N’ Roses were huge. They basically just exploded. We were all pissed that Rolling Stone showed up to do a story on Aerosmith, but Guns N’ Roses ended up on the cover of the magazine. Suddenly, the opening act was bigger than we were.”

guns n roses
G N’ R Lies

Guns N’ Roses’ next album, G N’ R Lies, was released in November 1988. It included the four recordings from their 1986 EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, as well as four new acoustic tracks. “Patience”, the only single released from G N’ R Lies, peaked at No. 4 in the U.S., while the album itself reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. “One in a Million” raised accusations of racism and homophobia.[26] Rose denied he was a racist and defended his use of a racial slur by claiming that “it’s a word to describe somebody that is basically a pain in your life, a problem. The word nigger doesn’t necessarily mean black,” although he later conceded that he had used the word as an insult towards black people who had tried to rob him. In response to the allegations of homophobia, Rose stated that he considered himself “pro-heterosexual” and blamed this attitude on “bad experiences” with gay men.

Guns N’ Roses’ late 1980s shows were often eventful for more than just the band’s performance. During a November 1987 show in Atlanta, Rose assaulted a security guard and was held backstage by police, while his band mates continued playing with a roadie singing. Riots nearly broke out during two August 1988 shows in New York State. At England’s Monsters of Rock festival, held that same month, two fans were crushed to death during their set by the slam-dancing crowd. During the first of four October 1989 dates opening for the Rolling Stones at the L.A. Coliseum, Rose announced that the shows would be their last if certain members of the band did not stop “dancing with Mr. Brownstone,” a reference to their song of the same name about heroin. Events such as these earned Guns N’ Roses the moniker “The Most Dangerous Band in the World.”
International success and band turmoil (1990–1993)
Use Your Illusion I and II
Main articles: Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II

In 1990, Guns N’ Roses returned to the studio to begin recording their most ambitious undertaking yet. During the recording session of “Civil War”, drummer Steven Adler was unable to perform well due to his struggles with cocaine and heroin addiction – his difficulties in the studio caused the band to do nearly 30 takes.[30] As a result, Adler was fired on July 11, 1990, and was replaced by drummer Matt Sorum, who had played briefly with The Cult, and whom Axl credited for saving the band.[citation needed]

In response to an interviewer’s suggestion that replacing Adler with Sorum had turned Guns N’ Roses from a rock ‘n’ roll band into a heavy metal one, Stradlin responded, “Yeah, a big musical difference. The first time I realized what Steve did for the band was when he broke his hand in Michigan. Tried to punch through a wall and busted his hand. So we had Fred Coury come in from Cinderella for the Houston show. Fred played technically good and steady, but the songs sounded just awful. They were written with Steve playing the drums and his sense of swing was the push and pull that give the songs their feel. When that was gone, it was just…unbelievable, weird. Nothing worked. I would have preferred to continue with Steve, but we’d had two years off and we couldn’t wait any longer. It just didn’t work for Slash to be telling Steve to straighten out. He wasn’t ready to clean up.”[31]

A few months prior, keyboardist Dizzy Reed became the sixth member of the group when he joined as a full-time member. The band fired their manager, Alan Niven, replacing him with Doug Goldstein in May 1991. According to a 1991 cover story by Rolling Stone magazine, Rose forced the dismissal of Niven (against the wishes of some of his band-mates) by refusing to complete the albums until he was replaced.[32]

With enough music for two albums, the band released Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II on September 17, 1991. The tactic paid off when the albums debuted at No. 2 and No. 1 respectively in the Billboard charts, setting a record as they became the first group to achieve this feat until Hip-Hop artist Nelly accomplished the same feat in 2004. The Guns N’ Roses albums spent 108 weeks in the chart.

Guns N’ Roses accompanied the Use Your Illusion albums with many videos, including “Don’t Cry”, “November Rain” and “Estranged” – some of the most expensive music videos ever made. The hit ballad “November Rain” (No. 3 US) became the most requested video on MTV, eventually winning the 1992 MTV Video Music Award for best cinematography. It is also the longest song in US chart history to reach the Top Ten, clocking in at 8:57. During the awards show, the band performed the song with Elton John accompanying on piano.

Both prior to and after the release of the albums, Guns N’ Roses embarked on the 28-month-long Use Your Illusion Tour. It became famous for both its financial success and the many controversial incidents that occurred at the shows, and is still currently the longest tour in rock history.

guns n roses
Use Your Illusion Tour
Main article: Use Your Illusion Tour

The Use Your Illusion World Tour program included a guitar solo from Slash based on The Godfather theme, a piano-driven cover of “It’s Alright” by Black Sabbath and an extended jam on the classic rock-inspired “Move to the City” where they showcased the ensemble of musicians assembled for the tour.

Many of the successful performances during the tour were equally matched, and often overshadowed, in the press by riots, late starts and outspoken rants by Rose. While the band’s previous drug and alcohol issues were seemingly under control, Axl was often agitated by lax security, sound problems and unwanted filming or recording of the performances. He also used the time in-between songs to fire off political statements or retorts against music critics or celebrity rivals.
Main article: Riverport Riot

On July 2, 1991, at the Riverport Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis, during a performance of “Rocket Queen”, Rose discovered that a fan was filming the show with a camera. After asking the venue’s security to take away the camera, Rose decided to take it himself, jumping into the audience and tackling the fan. He had a heated confrontation with the fan before physically assaulting him. After being pulled out of the audience by members of the crew, Rose said, “Well, thanks to the lame-ass security, I’m going home!”, threw his microphone to the ground and stormed off the stage. The angry crowd began to riot and dozens of people were injured. Footage was captured by Robert John, who was documenting the entire tour. Rose was wanted by the police for inciting the riot, but police were unable to arrest him until almost a year later, as the band went overseas to continue the tour. Charges were filed against Rose, but a judge ruled that he did not directly incite the riot. In his defense, Rose stated that the Guns N’ Roses security team had made four separate requests to the venue’s security staff to remove the camera, all of which were ignored, and that other members of the band had reported being hit by bottles launched from the audience, while the security staff was refusing to enforce a drinking limit.[34] As a result, Use Your Illusion’s liner notes featured a hidden message amidst the Thank You section: “Fuck You, St. Louis!”

Rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin abruptly quit the band on November 7, 1991, after a repeat of the St. Louis incident nearly unfolded during a concert in Germany.[35] Stradlin cited a combination of Rose’s personal behavior (Rose frequently delayed the start of shows by hours at a time) and his mismanagement of the band[35] and difficulties being around Slash, Sorum, and McKagan, due to his new-found sobriety and their continuing alcohol and substance addictions.[36] Axl Rose originally wanted Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro to replace Stradlin, but Stradlin was eventually replaced by Los Angeles-based guitarist Gilby Clarke, whom Slash credited for saving the band. During many shows throughout the tour, Rose introduced Clarke to the audience, and Slash and Clarke would then play “Wild Horses”, a Rolling Stones cover. In late 1991, Rose added a touring ensemble to the band which included a horns section and several background vocalists despite the rest of the band’s refusal. Izzy Stradlin has since produced eleven solo albums,[37] more work than any other single member of Guns N’ Roses had produced.
Guns N’ Roses at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992

In 1992, the band appeared at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, performing a three-song set. Slash later performed “Tie Your Mother Down” with the remaining members of Queen and Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliott, while Axl Rose performed “We Will Rock You” and sang a duet with Elton John on “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Their personal set included “Paradise City” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. When they returned to the US for the second leg of the Use Your Illusion Tour, Queen guitarist Brian May opened the shows with a band that included Cozy Powell on drums. Axl had originally wanted the grunge band (and labelmates) Nirvana to open their Use Your Illusion Tour, but frontman Kurt Cobain refused.

Later in the year, they went on the Guns N’ Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour, with American Metal band Metallica. During a show in August 1992 at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, Metallica frontman James Hetfield suffered severe burns after malfunctions with a pyrotechnics blast. Metallica was forced to cancel the second hour of the show, but promised to return to the city for another performance. After a long delay, during which the audience became increasingly restless, Guns N’ Roses took the stage. However, the shortened time between sets did not allow for adequate tuning of stage monitors, resulting in members of G N’ R not being able to hear themselves. In addition, Rose claimed that his throat hurt,[38] causing the band to leave the stage early. The cancellation led to another riot by audience members, reminiscent of the St. Louis riot, that had occurred one year earlier. Rioters overturned cars, smashed windows, looted local stores and set fires. Local authorities were barely able to bring the mob under control. This can be seen on video in A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica. On VH1’s Behind the Music documentary about Metallica, the band spoke about this tour and how they learned from Guns N’ Roses “what not to do” as a band.

guns n roses

The historic tour ended in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 17, 1993. The tour set attendance records and lasted for 28 months, in which 194 shows were played. The show in Buenos Aires marked the last time that Slash, as well as newcomers Sorum and Clarke, would play a live show with Rose. At the tour’s conclusion, Rose would fire Clarke without consulting anyone, claiming he was only a “hired hand”.
“The Spaghetti Incident?”
Main article: “The Spaghetti Incident?”

On November 23, 1993, Guns N’ Roses released a collection of punk and glam rock covers entitled “The Spaghetti Incident?”. Despite protests from Rose’s bandmates, an unadvertised cover of the Charles Manson song “Look at Your Game, Girl” was included on the album, at his request. Years later, Rose said he would remove the song from new pressings of the album, claiming that critics and the media had misinterpreted his interest in Manson. Axl can be seen wearing a black Manson shirt in the video for “Estranged” from Use Your Illusion II. He also can be seen wearing a red Manson shirt in footage from their show in Milton Keynes, England, in 1993, with the additional text on the back, “Charlie Don’t Surf”. The song “Look at Your Game, Girl” has not been removed and is still featured on pressings of the album. Despite initial success, “The Spaghetti Incident?” did not match the sales of the Illusion albums and its release consequently led to increased tension within the band. In 1994, all of the members of the band at the time contributed to Gilby Clarke’s debut album, Pawnshop Guitars.
Hiatus (1994–1998)

Interviews with Guns N’ Roses band members suggest that between 1994 and 1996, the band sporadically began to write and record new material, most of which, according to Slash, had been written by Rose. Rose has stated the exact opposite in the open letter on the official Guns N’ Roses website, that the album was mostly a “Slash album” and Rose was allowed very little input into the album. At the time, the band had intended to release a single album with 10 or 12 songs.

Regarding the dysfunction of the band’s recording at that time, Rose is quoted as saying, “We still needed the collaboration of the band as a whole to write the best songs. Since none of that happened, that’s the reason why that material got scrapped.”

In December 1994, Guns N’ Roses released a cover recording of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”. The song appeared in the film Interview with the Vampire, as well as Fallen, on the film’s soundtrack and was also released separately as a single. It is the final Guns N’ Roses single to feature Slash on lead guitar, Duff McKagan on bass, and Matt Sorum on the drums. It also featured Paul Huge on rhythm guitar. Huge’s presence on the track and in the band created great tension between Rose and Slash, because Slash disliked Huge and felt he was not qualified to be in the group.

The recording of “Sympathy for the Devil”, as well as tension between him and Rose, led Slash to quit the band officially in October 1996. He was replaced by Nine Inch Nails touring guitarist Robin Finck in January 1997, who signed a two-year contract with the band in August 1997, making him an official member. Slash’s departure was followed shortly thereafter by Matt Sorum, who was fired in April 1997 and then by bassist Duff McKagan, who resigned from the band in August 1997. As such, all of the members who had taken part in the recording of Appetite for Destruction (aside from Rose) had departed from the band. Multiple views have been presented on the departures by various band members (current and former). 1994 was the last year Rose held a press conference or performed until 2001 with his new cast. Rose’s only performance in 1994 was a duet with Bruce Springsteen on a cover of The Beatles song “Come Together”. An actual break-up of Guns N’ Roses never occurred, as new players were brought in as the old ones left.

guns n roses

McKagan was the last of the Appetite lineup to leave, resigning as bassist in August 1997, being replaced later that year by Tommy Stinson (formerly of The Replacements). Sorum was replaced by Chris Vrenna for a short time in April to May 1997, followed briefly by Pod, and finally by Josh Freese in the summer of 1997. By the end of 1998, a new version of Guns N’ Roses had emerged: many musicians have come and gone from the new band, but the core group has included Rose, Stinson, keyboardist Dizzy Reed and multi-instrumentalist Chris Pitman.

Geffen released Live Era ’87-’93, a collection of live performances from various concerts during the Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion tours. Guns N Roses  owed Universal/Interscope a live album, which was primarily assembled by Duff, who at the time was still a partner in the band.

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